Sunday, July 23, 2006

Letters to a Young Blue Devil Knight

dear blueDevil: rainer maria rilka, of Duino Eligies kind, and Sonets to Orpheus, wrote a fine book i was directed to in much younger days called Letters to a Young Poet. evidently he knew wittgenstein, Saul Frau (i don't want to look up the name, but she knew all those guys in a way that a woman would) or such, Rodin, etc. if 'etc' is not too gross a term, so i propose to write letters to a young bluedevil.



but before i quickly do such a missive, i wish to add parenthetically that when i went to korea with Zen Master Soen Sa Nim, kinda of a Fredrico Felini goes to the zen mountain temple kind of guy, on that trip i had the good pleasure of meeting translater now author Stephen Mitchel, who translated Rilke wonderfully... in fact, i read of Soen Sa Nim long befor meeting him, or Dae Soen Sa Nim (Dae: Kor. for "Great"). in any event, mitchel was a dear gentle man, with a very lovely korean accupunturist sife who manipulated the top of my crown on the top of my head (a sensative, critical point in accuncture), to alleviate some intense discomfort in my lower body, long story about over stretching in my martial arts days of long wide legs... and he latter went on to translate Job, the Book of John, the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, Rumi, what did he possibly miss? teaching himself at once first german then hebrew. those guys didn't so much as translate as learn to read good translations and render them with a poets ear, as ezra pound did with confucius's annelects, using french and german interlineal translations... so himm, where was i?



i just got off work, had one of those ten minute naps at home during lunch = two nights good sleep THEN a good cup of dark coffee, and so ready to go after writing you here if i may: hit CTA hard then CTS, then i get to lay in bed with mr. alburt with all the windows open...

i always asked Yasser, what will happen to my chess when i get a girlfriend again...

so to ("chess) young"BlueDevil:

i had the good fortune to find a coach at icc. well, not really, he found me. he wanted to trade me my teaching him investing for chess coaching. its funny, i feel no need to blog about quantitative investing, as i have mastered it, yet here like to write and master none of it. cognitive dissonance or OCD? OCD is not QGD, KGA, KID or queen gambit declined, kings gambit accepted or kings indian defence? new chess term: OCD. OCD by batesford, or gambit. soon to be in print.

charles, my coach, is 2200 fide. whether he is higher or lower does not concern me, only that he be able to tell me how to advance and has himself traversed this same terrain AND communicate clearly his learning how to learn.

he told me to do CTS, which i inhaled. of course, i already did Seirawans Winning Chess Tactics after Chernev's Winning Chess, and weak attempts to start Reinfeld's 1001 Sacrifices and Combinations.

He then told me to do CTA ** A F T E R ** i hit 10,000 chess.emrald.net. he also told me to start Muellers Secrets of Pawn Endings and to really hit Shereshevsky's Endgame Strategy.

It is important to say, that this is after about 3,000 rapid games 3 min/12 sec increment on Y!yahoo, then early this winter MAKING myself switch to 3/8. i also read chernevs Practical Chess Endings over a year without a board, VERY slowly, doing all variations in my head. that was of course after Pandolphini's Endgame Course. his work is sloppy, it is said, but HE is not bad as evidenced by his chess.cafe column which is not a stupid column by any means, as he is obviously broadly educated in the humanities and learning.

lastly, i spent three years going slowly through 941 GM classic games, from such books as Nunn, Understanding Chess Move By Move, My System, Stohl's Instructive Modern Chess Masterpieces ** W I T H ** O U T ** U S I N G ** the annotations but rather just sources the games from the books. id try to see what was going on and guess the next move. i rendered them all into pgn or used various sources including Osmitz (sp?).

all this ** B E F O R E ** trying any advanced training software or systems.

what of you?

i have not read all your posts. and i am not your coach. but someone a little ahead of you, who just as charles at 2200 can tell me at 1650 or so OBP how to improve, maybe if you are 1200+/- i can say a tiny bit, if polite and not intrusive or judgemental?

it seems to me, if you are doing tactical software or CTA or renko or whatever it is, this is too advanced. you can slow it down. those basic books sound good, including winning chess et al.

secondly, i dont know what you are playing OBP but if you haven't played 1,000 1,500, or 2,000 games+, then there is insufficient context to put the 'jaz' into.

lastly, if you were 52.4% across 94 problems, then you either are going too fast, or aren't comfortable with the interface. if you must do CTS, then please consider going slowly. the one exogenus advantage of the site is that it puts you in the context of a community of users in real time. very motivating. and try to be an 80%, 85% user, not a quick 68 or 75% user. you will notice the difference. i mean, you can just sit and stare at it. tempo does; wormwood does. and i do. it won't kill you. let the clock run. speed will come.

in tae chi, you learn to fight in slow motion latter on. then the masters add speed over the year and do they add it!

so lots of play. less advanced study which can be demoralizing. and targeted study, maybe from book tactics not timed stuff--which will demoralize you till you learn more basic stuff, or if know it, then learn to access it and see it.

very lastly: at a certain point, i decided to ONLY play folks rated > than me. i learned to fear folks who had negative win/loss ratios. like 400w/700L/50d=1150 games. but the folks who were 850w/250L/50d=1150 rated near me, id not fear them. i almost always concretely planned to win and expected the win. are ratings all the same according to asymtotes approaching a physically real but slightly incommensurable or indeterminate--fuzzy--boundary? yes and no.

i lost a lot. but only once i did this, to subject myself to regular punishiment, did my game start to improve. of course, i lost many a won game, and as pandolphini says of a class B or 1800 being someone "who can win a won game", so i lost many a won game, either on the clock, or in a superior opening lost in tactical complications too much to see in seconds on increment...

BUT, and this is a big but, when you beat someone two or three hundred elo above you, how sweet, how delectable it is? then when they start to accuse you of cheating, as i think also happened to temposchlucker was it? this is the best! accusing of using a prog. Yasser has folks write ICC all the time... : "he is a prog" (chess analytic progarma a.k.a Fritz, Crafty, Junior, etc). but they write him, "no, he is NOT a prog!".

once i started CTS, id play VERRRRY rarely and still do, but when i do, i surprise most everyone 100 or 150 elo > me.

these ++ elo' above you will punish our sins. if you loose too many, then go down one league. if start to approach 50% w/L, then aught to move up one league. also as pandolphini says.

with 100 elo, you aught to win 1 out of 3. 200 elo win 1 out of 10. the basics. slowly. lots of games. review lost games. good beer or naps.

you absolutely have to be a bright and very talented man to have accomplished what you have outside of chess, so, what is it you want here? surely your webWork and neuroWork and policalMissives so well crafted all point to an exceptionally talented and alert mind, able to do whatever it wants.

warmly, dk

13 Comments:

Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

Thanks for the nice letter, Dave. There has been lots of discussion about the best way for a newbie at chess to improve. Suggestions have included:
-Play through master games (the predict the next move method), as advised in a great post by Quandoman (click 'show original post' to see it).
-Play lots and lots of games to build up a base.
-Lots of tactics. Do lots of basic tactical exercises, as in the Circles.
-Play as many slow games as possible, being sure to carefully analyze each one afterwards to find strengths and weaknesses.
-A balanced approach, including some of the above, but also endgame study.

My response to all these is "Yes." Looking at my slow games, my mistakes are elementary tactical and counting errors, in addition to just not thinking moves through. So, for now, I'm focusing on tactics almost exclusively. But, once I finish these circles I'm not sure what I'll do. Probably just play tons of games because I'll be sick of regimented training. I think playing through master games is a good approach, though I have a modified version of that which I'll post about soon (hint: Fritz is the master).

So, while right now I'm following the common advice to do lots of tactics. They certainly aren't too advanced: I picked the easiest tactics program out there to drill the alphabet of tactics into my head like I learned the multiplication tables. We'll see if it helps!

Stephen Mitchell wrote the translation of the Tao te Ching that I used the most, back when I used to read it every day. It is a great translation.

Fri Jul 21, 09:04:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

thank you eric. i have a nice story about when i saw stephen mitchel twenty years latter in seattle for his book signing. i last saw him at a mountain temple, which he was returning to after half as many years. this was a difficult journey back--in a crowded mini bus without bathing, on dusty roads and inadequate sleep. i told SM about my second acid trip, of which there were only two and surely never to do again! he said, "that was a very deep experience. you might want to sit on that one".

when we returned to Won Kak Sha, high up a mountain accessable only by prodigious steps, i was by his side. his was not obese but not in shape and physically soft. he started to get a violently upset stomach. he started to shout, "Wa jung shil, wa jung shil". lavatory. he made it.

it wasnt the food. but the nervous reliving of one very hard winter on this mountain mediatating, limited comfort or food or warmth, isolated. very hard.

the man who coordinated this whole festival we were readying to attend died that weekend. he spent months making all the prep.

when he died, and in asia to die correctly is the mark of conscious dignity, his wife emerged from the ante room--shinning from head to toe, very beautiful as a mature woman. not tears. but deep quiet joy...

i remember raking the gravel there, and doing karate kicks in the early morning light of dawn and the sumptuous feast...

you say many good things. thanks you. i did check the Convekta Chess Tactics for beginnners. looks great. in that light, i can see you don't need Winning Chess.

when you are ready for review of gm games, i aught to be able to send you the pgn of the 941 games, not all the classics but a great many. all anchored in great books.

book name: number of games:
logical chess, 33
most instructive games, 62
twelve great chess players and their games, 115
understanding chess move by move, 30
the art of chess analysis, 24
secrets of practical chess, 24
instructive modern chess masterpieces, 50
greatest games of chess ever played, 100
fischer's my 60 memorable games, 60
my system, 50
chess praxis, 109
zurich, 210
creative chess strategy, 55
extra games added to new edition, burgess greatest games of chess every played, some 15 or so games, dont recall exactly.

ive probably missed something, but thats a lot of it. i put this project away a year ago, finishing at the solstice as planned.

this years solstice event was 19,000 chess.emrald.

time for me to work at chess, thx for your comments, dk

Fri Jul 21, 11:43:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

corretion, 10,000 at solstice.

Fri Jul 21, 11:44:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

correction, spelled correction... i just hate to edit! i love to just write and then hit send THEN read. its like lotto for english.

Fri Jul 21, 11:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

That sounds very helpful, transformation!

Have you seen this great site of pgns from books?

I plan on working through A First Book of Morphy (~60 games: amazing book if you don't have it, though perhaps too easy for you), Euwe (MAaster vs Amateur), Chernev (Logical chess), and eventually Chernev (60 games).

Sat Jul 22, 07:56:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

thank you eric. yes, this is in fact the site i referenced in my last post, "used various sources including Osmitz (sp?)" well, Osmitz sounds like gossimit doesn't it??

he cites prohibition from Gambit, but editor murray chandlear is still a very nice man who answers all his emails!

all the same, to render 941 games with some duplicates is a real task, even if half or forty-percent of them came from sources such as this. for example, also published by gambit, Creative Chess Strategy by Romero ("Thats a VERY good book", personal converstaion with Seirawan) has many games from Spanish GM play,a and while some were on my MasterChess 3.0 disc, others were not even on chessBase.com. same with some of the games from Nunn's books.

it is said, in view of what you suggest about the morphy book, then Euwe, etc, that the apiring chess student pass throught the various stages of history; thus first steinitz, capablanca and alekhein, then bottvinnik, tal, petrosian, fischer, karpov, kasparov, etc. the idea being one of incorporating levels of complexity and concept. needless to say, this view is enormously elaborated by K in the sumptuous My Great Predeccessors series.

lastly, what does tactical repetition, endings, playing at once lots of rapid games or alternately standard games, then review of great GM games have in common? what is larger than this?

the idea of focus supercedes this. in chinese calligraphy, the master, as i experienced, has the student making a single dot for a month without writing or constructing the "bone" (horizontal) stroke with the brush.

or the sitar. Ravi Shankar practiced simply sitting and holding the instrument for ONE year without playing a single note, as a prelude to study under his master.

to paint bamboo, become the bamboo.

singularity. one set of major skills at a time. reduction of elements to component parts at reduced speed. inductive process.

Sat Jul 22, 12:58:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Hi there! I came across your weblog via Blue Devil. I will add you to my sidebar and bloglines list and keep track of your posts. Take care!

Sat Jul 22, 04:20:00 PM PDT  
Blogger generalkaia said...

hey! i like what you are thinking here, lots of good ideas. how long have you been playing chess?

Sun Jul 23, 12:06:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

i started when i was 13 when fischer was challenging spassky. i was 1672 BEFORE ratings got inflated or chess was really popularized, but had to give up the game since i was too obscessed. im 100% certain id have gone far had i gone on, but my mother prohibited since "otherwise" id "never get into a good school on scholarship. we were very poor, even in america.

i studied architecture, half a mile from some of the best blitz in new york but never played--i was affraid to look.

then wall street after architecture and zen...

after loosing it all due to political-and social disharmony where i worked, at the big firm "Migrane Stintley", or the blue shoe firm, all UFO guru worshipping wildman part of me, leading 12,000 persons in my sales category--ok, ok, maybe i was 4 or 5 out of 12k, not 1 by some measures, managing $40,000,000, i rediscovered chess during kasparov-kramink. then i found out yahoo had free chess. my god! instead of booze i could...

i was 1172 or 1200 to start, then clawned to 1450/1475.

i applied myself to about, 1625/50 but don't really know my rating. chess is so DAMN stressfull. after wall street i need this???? so my rating is very underexpressed.

i love to study. no pun intended but keeps the devil away. or as charlie munger said of Warren Buffet when he wanted to buy 10% of U.S. Defence contractor Dynamics: "I suppose its ok if it keeps him out of bars".

in seattle i contacted the american foundation for chess, to see if i could be their fund raiser, and wrote Yasser Seirawan, who made an introdcution. no eventualities. the director and i, who is no longer couldn't....

but i asked to see him for coffee. we've met maybe 20 times since then and have maybe 300 emails since 2002. i have been back to chess since 2001. it is beauty.

most of all, i love the extended community there, and the ties of CTS and blogger are quite fruculent.

warmly, dk

Sun Jul 23, 12:40:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Edwin 'dutchdefence' Meyer said...

Unless you like being cheated out of your game, i suggest you start looking for other places to play instead of Yahoo! Yahoo! is the number one spot for cheaters at online chess. I am not talking just engine users, i am talking specially written cheat programs that run on Yahoo! games. Don't ask me the specifics, because i am not really a computer whiz kid. But i can asure you, they are. And they're screwing you while your at it.

Sun Jul 23, 05:13:00 AM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

thank you sir. yes, i know.

but remember, rating is not important to me, or not a major factor, at least. in fact, i try to loose MORE---what? by playing only folks rated above me. if they want to cheat, so be it. cheaters can use good moves!

of course, yahoo chess is a silly, rude zoo, and i get tired of it, like the high coefficient of folks who ask to cancel lost games, leave the room--letting the clock run down, or some idiot who thinks, down a queen and or a rook and bishop somehow i, at my level, might stalemate them or not know how to pull it off???

and im aware of this phenomenon that you describe so well. and my plan all along was and is to sharpen my skills before doing more on ICC, where i also go. i hate to record bad chess.

but you encourage me to move on despite my attachement and i will take this under due consideration.

Sun Jul 23, 11:14:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Blue Devil Knight said...

The ICC interface is the sine qua non. But when I want some more casual chess, Kurnik, I think Kurnik is the best. Less of that 12-year-old-boy on the playground mentality. One bad thing, though, is that there is no randomization of colors: you have to pick what color you want to be...For some mysterious reason, lots of people are seeking games as white. I go there when I need to work on an opening as black :)

And remember, ICC only records your last 20 games. It has a short memory.

Sun Jul 23, 02:42:00 PM PDT  
Blogger transformation said...

Letter One, Paris
February 17, 1903

Dear Sir,

Your letter arrived just a few days ago. I want to thank you for the great confidence you have placed in me. That is all I can do. I cannot discuss your verses; for any attempt at criticism would be foreign to me. Nothing touches a work of art so little as words of criticism : they always result in more or less fortunate misunderstandings. Things aren't all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.

With this note as a preface, may I just tell you that your verses have no style of their own, although they do have silent and hidden beginnings of something personal. I feel this most clearly in the last poem, "My Soul." There, something of your own is trying to become word and melody. And in the lovely poem "To Leopardi" a kind of kinship with that great, solitary figure does perhaps appear. Nevertheless, the poems are not yet anything in themselves, not yet anything independent, even the last one and the one to Leopardi. Your kind letter, which accompanied them, managed to make clear to me various faults that I felt in reading your verses, though I am not able to name them specifically.

You ask whether your verses are an y good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you - no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple "I must," then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your while life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse. Then come close to Nature. Then, as if no one had ever tried before, try to say what you see and feel and love and lose. Don't write love poems; avoid those forms that are too facile and ordinary: they are the hardest to work with, and it takes great, fully ripened power to create something individual where good, even glorious, traditions exist in abundance. So rescue yourself from these general themes and write about what your everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, the thoughts that pass through your mind and your belief in some kind of beauty - describe all these with heartfelt, silent, humble sincerity and, when you express yourself, use the Things around you, the images from your dreams, and the objects that you remember. If your everyday life seems poor, don't blame it; blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is not poverty and no poor, indifferent place. And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world's sounds - wouldn't you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories? Turn your attentions to it. Try to raise up the sunken feelings of this enormous past; your personality will grow stronger, your solitude will expand and become a place where you can live in the twilight, where the noise of other people passes by, far in the distance. - And if out of this turning-within, out of this immersion in your own world, poems come, then you will not think of asking anyone whether they are good or not. Nor will you try to inte4rest magazines in these works: for you will see them as your dear natural possession, a piece of your life, a voice from it. A work of art is good if it has arisen out of necessity. That is the only way one can judge it. So, dear Sir, I can't give you any advice but this: to go into yourself and see how deep the place is from which your life flows; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create. Accept that answer, just as it is given to you, without trying to interpret it. Perhaps you will discover that you are called to be an artist. Then take the destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in Nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.

But after this descent into yourself and into your solitude, perhaps you will have to renounce becoming a poet (if, as I have said, one feels one could live without writing, then one shouldn't write at all). Nevertheless, even then, this self-searching that I as of you will not have been for nothing. Your life will still find its own paths from there, and that they may be good, rich, and wide is what I wish for you, more than I can say

What else can I tell you? It seems to me that everything has its proper emphasis; and finally I want to add just one more bit of advice: to keep growing, silently and earnestly, through your while development; you couldn't disturb it any more violently than by looking outside and waiting for outside answers to question that only your innermost feeling, in your quietest hour, can perhaps answer.

It was a pleasure for me to find in your letter the name of Professor Horacek; I have great reverence for that kind, learned man, and a gratitude that has lasted through the years. Will you please tell him how I feel; it is very good of him to still think of me, and I appreciate it.

The poems that you entrusted me with I am sending back to you. And I thank you once more for your questions and sincere trust, of which, by answering as honestly as I can, I have tried to make myself a little worthier than I, as a stranger, really am.

Yours very truly,
Rainer Maria Rilke

Mon Jul 24, 04:50:00 AM PDT  

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